When starting a new hobby, there are always going to be a million questions to start. FPV Racing and multicopters are certainly no different. We’re hoping to cover some of the most essential questions you might have when considering getting into the hobby of FPV Racing. These sets of questions will get you started and will help you to learn what it takes to get started with FPV Racing.
What is drone racing?
Drone racing is a sport where remote-controlled drones are piloted around short courses at high speeds using first-person-view (FPV) video systems.
How fast are racing drones?
Both flying distance and flight top speed are going to depend a lot on the various components you are using. Your quad’s speed is going to be factored by a combination between motor, propeller, weight, as well as battery. For a rough estimate, if you’re flying a 250 frame racing quad using a three cell battery, you’ll probably be flying around 40mph. With a four cell battery you can probably reach speeds of 60mph and faster.
How high can drones flight?
In paying respect to FAA flying guidelines, pilots should not fly higher than an altitude of 400ft. That being said – most drones can fly much higher than this. It will vary greatly depending on your setup, flying conditions, and line of sight, but you can expect the range to be anywhere between 1000ft to up to 10 miles. As you start flying into the stratosphere, the propellers on drones become less effective. Most quadcopter drones will have a tough time flying above 20,000ft above sea level.
What type of person gets into FPV Racing?
Imagine flying through the air. You’ve finally been given the power of flight! It’s an incredibly strange sensation viewing your quadcopter through a first-person perspective. You may feel like you’re constantly moving forward or feel like you need to tilt your head to see more clearly. It’ll be an experience unlike any other.
I would say someone who has both patience and motivation gets into this hobby. Learning how to actually fly a quadcopter and do well, especially when controlling in acro mode, is going to take a lot of patience. It will be frustrating at times and you just need to keep on practicing. Motivation is what will drive you to keep flying repair after repair. It’s certainly not impossible, but you have to know that not everyone flies like Charpu on their first day out.
The hobby is also really great if you love tinkering around. There will be repairs and you will find yourself having to troubleshoot what’s wrong with your FPV Racer. The craft isn’t flying? Here’s a list of at least twenty things to check. Your motor stopped working? Why? Troubleshooting and having the patience to fix problems is a must.
It’s incredibly fun to capture your flight’s footage with an action cam and share it with your friends. When you finally pull of that insane maneuver and share it on Facebook or Reddit, it’s a fantastic feeling.
Do I need a lot of RC or flying experience to fly an FPV Racer?
I would not recommend anyone to immediately jump into an FPV Racer without any previous experience flying some type of RC flying craft. Of course you don’t have to have years of experience under your belt, but it’s a really good idea to buy a cheap toy quadcopter to get the feel for what horizon flight mode feels like. Read our article for some of the beginner quadcopters we recommend.
After flying around on a toy quad, you’ll really get a good feel for what flying a quadcopter is like. From there you can start doing research into options on building your own quad, learning about what makes up a quadcopter, or hopping in to a simulator type program. There are many, many routes you can take. It all boils down to getting some practice in before dropping the money for a FPV racing quadcopter. The practice you get will also be a great indicator of whether or not you might enjoy FPV racing in the first place.
How much is a racing drone?
The cheapest racing drones cost as little as $300 for a full set-up. For a drone that is similar to the ones that pros fly, you can expect to spend at least $250 for the drone and an additional $300 for equipment and tools.
How much should I spend on FPV Equipment?
Starting out, you’ll want to be conservative on spending. For everything included (quadcopter, goggles, transmitter, accessories) you’ll probably spend anywhere from $300 to $500+ when looking on the low end. There are of course certain parts or components which you will want to spend that extra money on because they will be worth it in the long run. More realistically, you’ll likely be spending anywhere from $500 to $800 for your first initial setup.
Two areas in which I would recommend splurging is in purchasing a quality radio transmitter and FPV goggles. The quadcopter itself will really vary and will take the hardest beating of anything you purchase. However when it comes to a radio transmitter that controls your quadcopter and FPV goggles, those two components can really last you a long time.
A very popular radio transmitter is the FrSky Taranis. At around $200 to start, it is a large initial investment, but for the price you are getting an absolutely solid transmitter. We recommend purchasing from Aloft Hobbies. They are a solid company with a great track record.
There is nothing worse than flying FPV with terrible quality video. While you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg, you want to pick something up that lets you see clearly and without straining. On the less expensive side, the Quanum is a fantastic choice. Simple, low cost, and very nice screen. On the middle area, the Headplay goggles are also a great option. While they may be more than double the price of the Quantum, they provide a very clear and immersive screen. On the higher end, Fat Shark goggles have been a pilot favorite for many.
Should I build my first quadcopter or buy one pre-built?
It depends – we actually have an article that discusses this. Building your own racing quadcopter is difficult, but it certainly is rewarding. There are many steps involved and it will probably take more than a single day to do. Parts of the building process are very technical and can be frustrating to someone who hasn’t ever built a quadcopter before, or someone who hasn’t undertaken many electrical tinkering type projects.
Why then would I recommend someone to knowingly frustrate themselves? Building and repairing quads is very much a part of the hobby. There will come a time when you crash and your quad will no longer fly. What then? You’ll have to know how to diagnose the problem and how to most effectively solve that problem. You don’t need to know how a car works to drive it, but when you crash you need to find someone who can fix it.
If you crash your quadcopter and something breaks, it’s a matter of researching the Internet and finding what the problem could be. Having had built a quadcopter you will feel much more comfortable with doing repairs on it. It’s never a bad time to learn to solder!
Of course, if you happen to have a genius friend who is an expert quadcopter mechanic/engineer (like our Novuh), then throw caution to the wind and reach new heights!
I’ve got all my stuff ready to go, what now?
Read our three part series on drone training and getting out into the wild and figuring out where to fly. It goes over what materials you’ll need, how to select a perfect flying location, and how to practice.
Also look into local clubs and flight competitions to really get into the hobby. Meeting other pilots is a great way to ramp up your learning and to take the experience of more veteran pilots. Many of those who are into the hobby are enthusiastic to share and talk about it with new pilots. Don’t be afraid to ask!
What do I do while I’m not flying?
Participate in user discussions! Reddit, Facebook, and various RC/FPV Racing forums are a great way to interact with the community and help the hobby grow. Not only can you learn from others, but you can start sharing your knowledge as well. Our site only grows by our continuing self-education of actually flying and repairing as well as digesting what’s out there in the community.
Watch videos! Hop on Youtube, Reddit, Facebook, what have you and start watching a bunch of videos. Whether its race footage, trick compilations, or wacky videos, watching minicopter videos helps expand your mind and shows you what’s possible. It can be very inspiring to see what is capable and trying to replicate what you see. At some point you should also put together a compilation of your sweet flight footage. Share the love!
Read articles! People are constantly sharing information in the form of blog posts, news articles, or community threads. Like anything in life, constantly learning and growing is a key to success.